“You are what you eat” is a saying that I think is discredited far too often. Do you ever really think about what you eat, what you’re putting in your body and the various processes and purposes that different nutrients serve? The answer is probably not. And that is a common answer that it often true for most Americans, which is not surprising because America embraces the culture of eating quickly or on-the-go because everyone is “busy.”
Too “busy” to pay attention to where their food is coming from and what exactly is inside of it. And it’s this nationwide lack of concern that has led to a manifestation of 50,000 fast food restaurants. This alarming number will only continue to rise if no action is taken on the individual level. Switching over to home-cooked, plant-based meals can begin to address mental health, systemic racism and classism.
On the basis of small scale action, I encourage you to attempt to make more time in your days to prepare home cooked meals and substitute on-the-go fast food meals for protein-, fiber- and B vitamin-rich smoothies. I do understand it’s hard to find time, as I too hardly find time in my own schedule between working and going to school full time. Make the time during precooked meal prep sessions or waking up a little earlier; your body will most certainly thank you. About 68.8% of Americans are obese, and about 18% of Americans 20 years and older are depressed. The alarming rise of obesity and depression are linked to poor eating habits over the course of many years. Obesity and heart disease are widespread in communities of color and lower income classes simply because cheaper foods are calorie dense and nutrient poor.
That being said, I want to present two smoothie recipes that incorporate brightly colored fruits and vegetables. But I want to take a quick diversion to quickly discuss exactly why it’s so vital to mental health to eat foods high in fiber and B vitamins. A very interesting fact is that most of serotonin production (the chemical in your brain that produces feelings of euphoria and happiness) occurs in the digestive tract. In fact, up to 80-90% of serotonin production comes from digestive processes. Foods high in fiber and B vitamins allow for more amino acid chain production of serotonin to occur.
Essentially, as more serotonin is produced, there is a decrease in depressed or anxious feelings. It’s simple, and it’s partially because you decided to have a fruit salad instead of fries for a snack! It’s incredible what the body can do when you treat it right. When you throw fiber into the equation it enhances the digestive process, making serotonin levels rise even more. It is a matter of getting used to new habits, when you’re breaking the chain of eating foods high in fats and sugars. Your stomach produces both good and bad bacteria. When you’re eating well, your stomach bacteria will make you have greater cravings of foods high in vitamins and nutrients. However, when you’re eating foods high in sugar, your body will crave it until you break the habit.
Fresh produce and bulk starches (rice, pasta, potatoes, etc.) are typically more affordable than eating out fast food on a regular basis. It’s just a matter of being aware of how to prepare these more balanced meals that don’t require massive amounts of sugar and fats to make them tasty. Here are a couple of my favorite recipes for smoothies.
Serendipitous Serotonin Smoothie
-1/4 cup of kale or spinach
-Half a cup of chia seeds
-1/4 cup of mango or pineapple puree
-One whole banana
-1/4 cup of yogurt (opt for soy/coconut/almond replacement if you’re vegan)
-1/3 cup of coconut milk
-1/4 cup of protein power (optional if you want to make a much more filling smoothie)
Directions: Place all contents in a blender, proceed to blend into a find puree or smoothie composition and enjoy! It should make two servings. This specific blend is nice because it is delicious and also contains many different ingredients that are B vitamin rich (coconut, mango, pineapple, banana) and packed with fiber (chia seeds and kale), all of which are going to be extremely kind to your digestive system.
Happy Happy Joy Joy Smoothie Smoothie
-1/2 cup of chia seeds
-1/4 cup of lemon juice
-1/4 cup of pureed carrot juice
-One whole banana
-One whole mango
-A handful of spinach
-1 tablespoon of honey
This smoothie directly boosts serotonin production. It’s not nearly as sweet as the previous recipe, but is a really nice energy booster as is also high in fiber.
-Posted by Cati